Skip to main content
Dr Michael Harbottle

Dr Michael Harbottle

Director of Recruitment and Admissions

Email
harbottlem@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone
+44 (0)29 2087 5759
Campuses
W/2.33, Queen's Buildings - West Building, 5 The Parade, Newport Road, Cardiff, CF24 3AA
Comment
Media commentator
Users
Available for postgraduate supervision

Overview

Prospective research students I am happy to consider applications for PhD study from high quality applicants with existing funding, or those intending to apply for an external scholarship, in areas which correspond to my fields of expertise, described below. Please contact me via email. Any funded studentships or postdoctoral research positions that become available will be advertised on jobs.ac.uk, findaphd.com or the School of Engineering`s webpages.

Current Interests Currently, my group is undertaking work in a number of areas of civil and environmental engineering. I am particularly interested in four general areas:

  • Interactions between geoenvironmental and geotechnical engineering and biology (‘biogeotechnics’). Many organisms, particularly plants and microorganisms, have the potential to impact on soil structure and properties. We are developing a number of projects in this area, for example in situ biofilm growth for soil stabilisation and self-healing of geotechnical structures.
  • Biological and chemical energy storage in the ground. We are using microbial fuel cells and in-ground fuel generation and supply to explore energy storage and extraction from soils and sediments.
  • Contaminated land remediation, particularly engineering aspects of technologies involving electricity and biology. We are using living organisms, both plants and microorganisms, in a range of projects. These include dealing directly with contamination through bioremediation as well as using biological methods to enhance other techniques, particularly those that are operated in situ, such as pump and treat or electrokinetics. We are using electrokinetic techniques for the remediation of metal- and organic-contaminated ground. 
  • Resource recovery from waste. Many waste repositories contain significant quantities of valuable elements but their recovery has been considered uneconomic or not feasible (or both). We are investigating technologies for material recovery in a range of waste types.

Major Projects

Title Description Dates Funder
Geobatteries: energy storage in the pedosphere to enable to renewables revolution (GESPERR) Cross-disciplinary project with geoenvironmental engineers, electrical engineers and bioscientists. Exploring the potential for chemical energy storage and extraction in soils and sediments facilitated by soil microorganisms. 2022-2024

EPSRC (EP/X018865/1)

£250k FEC

Accelerated Supergene Processes in Repository Engineering (ASPIRE) Collaboration with Leeds University / University of the West of England. Storage of industrial wastes in geological repositories designed to concentrate and permit recovery of residual resources. 2021-2024

EPSRC (EP/T03100X/1)

£1.5M FEC

Resilient Materials 4 Life (RM4L) Collaboration with Cambridge, Bath & Bradford Universities. Builds on the M4L project (below) to create materials that will adapt to their environment, develop immunity to harmful actions, self-diagnose the on-set of deterioration and self-heal when damaged.  2017-2022

EPSRC (EP/P02081X/1)

£6.0M FEC

IN-Situ Processes In Resource Extraction (INSPIRE) Collaboration with Warwick University and the University of the West of England. Investigated the potential for recovery of valuable resource from waste repositories through in-situ technologies. 2014-2018

NERC (NE/L013908/1)

£1.3M FEC

Materials 4 Life (M4L) Collaboration with Cambridge and Bath Universities. Multi-scale self-healing mechanisms to produce new materials with significantly enhanced durability and sustainability. 2013-2016

EPSRC (EP/K026631/1)

£2.1M FEC

Current research students

Name Topic Dates Other information
Khaled Alshehri Resource recovery from waste repositories in a circular economy 2021-
Eve Tarring Assessing the risks to freshwater ecosystems from water-soluble polymers 2021- Supported by the NERC Centre of Doctoral Training in Ecotoxicological Risk Assessment Towards Sustainable Chemical Use (ECORISC)
Zhenghui Gao Enhanced methanogenesis in municipal solid waste landfill through breakdown of lignocellulosic wastes 2021- Supported by Cardiff-Huazhong Agricultural University International Centre for Doctoral Training on Biomedical and Bioenergy Engineering
Tom Allison Identification, Occurrence, Transport, and Environmental Fate of Cellulose-Based Wet Wipes through the Wastewater Pathway 2021-
Hang Qian Soil-based microbial fuel cells to supply energy for low power underground processes 2022- Supported by Cardiff-Huazhong Agricultural University International Centre for Doctoral Training on Biomedical and Bioenergy Engineering

Completed PhD projects

Name Topic Dates Other information
Muaaz Wright-Syed Enhanced Biodegradation of Model Lignocellulosic Wastes in Laboratory-Scale Bioreactors & Landfills 2017-2021 Supported by an Environmental Research and Education Foundation Doctoral Scholarship
Steven Warwick A study of landfill content and its chemical evolution using historical, geographic and site monitoring data 2014-2021
Sunday Oniosun Phytoremediation of LNAPLs and Residual Oils in the Vadose Zone and Capillary Fringe 2012-2019
Chen Chunhui The effect of plant roots and plant & microbial exudates in biogeotechnical stabilization of soils 2016-2018 Visiting student supported by the China Scholarship Council
Khabeer Al-Awad The effect of biological exudates on the mechanical properties of granular soil 2014-2018
Stefani Botusharova Self-healing geotechnical structures via microbial action 2013-2017 Supported by BRE, as part of the EPSRC-funded ‘Materials for Life’ project
Ahmed Mugwar Bioprecipitation of Heavy Metals and Radionuclides with Calcium Carbonate in Aqueous Solutions and Particulate Media 2011-2016
Paris Alshiblawi Investigation of bioclogging in homogenous and heterogenous uncontaminated and contaminated sands 2011-2016
Richard Gill Electrokinetic-enhanced migration of solutes for improved bioremediation in heterogeneous granular porous media 2011-2015 EPSRC CASE Studentship at the University of Sheffield, co-supervised with Dr S Thornton and Prof J Smith (Shell)
Katherine Page Use of Recycled Organic Wastes as nutrient sources to aid the growth of energy crops on brownfield sites 2010-2014 Supported by Forest Research
Ziad Milad An Experimental Investigation of Landfill Leachate Impact on Surrounding Soil. A Study of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Aspects 2009-2014

Biography

I have been a lecturer and now senior lecturer in geoenvironmental engineering at Cardiff University School of Engineering since September 2006. Following a Masters in Engineering at Oxford University, I joined Fugro Limited (UK), working on offshore and onshore site investigation and engineering. I then returned to Oxford University as a doctoral student working with the NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (Oxford). Postdoctoral work at Cambridge University Engineering Department followed, with the SUBR:IM (Sustainable Urban Brownfield Regeneration: Integrated Management) consortium. Whilst in Cambridge, I was elected Fellow of Robinson College.

Committees and reviewing

Member of EPSRC Peer Review College (2017 onwards)

Institution of Civil Engineers Wales Ground Engineering Group - Chair (2015-17), vice chair (2014-15)

Institution of Civil Engineers Education Policy Panel (2012-)

Editorial Panel for Proceeding of the Institution of Civil Engineers: Ground Improvement (2016 onwards)

Editorial Panel for Geotechnique (2013-2016)

Publications

2022

2021

2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2001

Teaching

I am a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. My current teaching is as follows:

Materials & Construction (1st year)

Professional Studies & Construction (2nd year)

Environmental Geotechnics (3rd year)

Environmental Geotechnics (MSc)

Major projects (3rd year)

Case study & dissertation (MSc)

Current interests

Currently, my group is undertaking work in a number of areas of civil and environmental engineering. I am particularly interested in four general areas:

  • Interactions between geoenvironmental and geotechnical engineering and biology (‘biogeotechnics’). Many organisms, particularly plants and microorganisms, have the potential to impact on soil structure and properties. We are developing a number of projects in this area, for example in situ biofilm growth for soil stabilisation and self-healing of geotechnical structures.
  • Biological and chemical energy storage in the ground. We are using microbial fuel cells and in-ground fuel generation and supply to explore energy storage and extraction from soils and sediments.
  • Contaminated land remediation, particularly engineering aspects of technologies involving electricity and biology. We are using living organisms, both plants and microorganisms, in a range of projects. These include dealing directly with contamination through bioremediation as well as using biological methods to enhance other techniques, particularly those that are operated in situ, such as pump and treat or electrokinetics. We are using electrokinetic techniques for the remediation of metal- and organic-contaminated ground. 
  • Resource recovery from waste. Many waste repositories contain significant quantities of valuable elements but their recovery has been considered uneconomic or not feasible (or both). We are investigating technologies for material recovery in a range of waste types.

Contracts

Title People Sponsor Value Duration
GESPERR - Geobatteries: energy storage in the pedosphere to support the renewables revolution Harbottle, M, Sapsford, D, Cleall, P, Weightman, A, Ugalde-Loo, C EPSRC 201583 01/12/2022 - 31/5/2024
ASPIRE - Accelerated Supergene Processes in Repository Engineering Sapsford, D, Cleall, P,  Harbottle, M, Owen, N, Weightman, A EPSRC 592345 01/03/2021 - 29/02/2024
Self-healing Multifunctional Advanced Repair Technologies IN Cementitious Systems (SMARTINCS) Jefferson, A, Gardner, D, Harbottle, M, Davies, R, Mihai, I Commission of the European Communities 241185 01/12/2019 - 30/11/2023
Resilient materials for life (RM4L) Jefferson, A, Gardner, D, Harbottle, M, Davies, R, Mihai, I, Paul, A EPSRC 1668484 03/04/2017 - 02/10/2022
Environmental plastics pollution from Vietnamese plastic recycling craft villages Harbottle, M Universities Wales 1970 01/06/2020 - 30/11/2021
Landfill mining: Feasibility of reuse of aged municipal solid waste in geotechnical applications Harbottle, M British Council 6200 01/03/2020 - 31/01/2021
GEOHEAL - Self-healing geological construction materials & structures Harbottle, M Commission of the European Communities 131684 22/1/2018 - 21/1/2020
INSPIRE - In situ recovery of resources from waste repositories Sapsford D, Harbottle M, Cleall P, Mahdi T, Weightman A (BIOSI) NERC 671454 02/06/2014 - 01/06/2017
Self-healing geotechnical structures through microbiological action Harbottle M, Gardner D BRE 60000 01/10/2013 - 30/09/2016
Materials for life (M4L): Biomimetic multi-scale damage immunity for construction materials Lark R, Gardner D, Jefferson A, Harbottle M EPSRC 1672025 01/04/2013 - 31/03/2016
In Situ Recovery of Resources from Waste Repositories Sapsford D, Griffiths A, Harbottle M, Mahdi T, Cleall P NERC 56803 01/04/2013 - 30/09/2013
Response of pollutant chemistry, pathways and mobility to Short Rotation Forestry on brownfield Sites Dr PJ Cleall, DR MJ Harbottle Forest Research 27500 01/10/2010 - 30/09/2013
To develop Ford's capacity in resource efficiency and environmental performance through improvements in waste management and effluent treatment Sapsford D, Harbottle M KTP and Ford Motor Company Ltd 125710 01/09/2010 - 31/08/2012
Developing the sustainable laboratory - Waste Brennan P, Gregory C, Whitmarsh L, Cullen-Unswa, Harbottle M HEFCW 8999 01/11/2011 - 31/07/2012
Combined chemical/biological healing of cementitous materials Harbottle, M Institution of Structural Engineers 300 01/01/2012 - 31/01/2012
Biological reactors as replacement to activated carbon filters for the treatment of contaminated groundwater Harbottle M, Sapsford D, Mahdi T Celtic Technologies 25000 01/11/2010 - 31/10/2011
Investigation into Tar Contamination in the Blaenaovon mine water treatment scheme Sapsford D, Harbottle M The Coal Authority 2090 01/03/2011 - 31/08/2011

Supervised Students

Current research students

Name Topic Dates Other information
Khaled Alshehri Resource recovery from waste repositories in a circular economy 2021-
Eve Tarring Assessing the risks to freshwater ecosystems from water-soluble polymers 2021- Supported by the NERC Centre of Doctoral Training in Ecotoxicological Risk Assessment Towards Sustainable Chemical Use (ECORISC)
Zhenghui Gao Enhanced methanogenesis in municipal solid waste landfill through breakdown of lignocellulosic wastes 2021- Supported by Cardiff-Huazhong Agricultural University International Centre for Doctoral Training on Biomedical and Bioenergy Engineering
Tom Allison Identification, Occurrence, Transport, and Environmental Fate of Cellulose-Based Wet Wipes through the Wastewater Pathway 2021-
Hang Qian Soil-based microbial fuel cells to supply energy for low power underground processes 2022- Supported by Cardiff-Huazhong Agricultural University International Centre for Doctoral Training on Biomedical and Bioenergy Engineering



Supervision

I am interested in supervising PhD students in the areas of:

  • Soil biology for geotechnical and geoenvironmental engineering.
  • Electrical processes in soil, from electrokinetic remediation of contaminants to energy storage.
  • Resource recovery from in-ground waste repositories. 

Current supervision

Eve Tarring

Research student

alt

Tom Allison

Research student

Past projects

Name Topic Dates Other information
Muaaz Wright-Syed Enhanced Biodegradation of Model Lignocellulosic Wastes in Laboratory-Scale Bioreactors & Landfills 2017-2021 Supported by an Environmental Research and Education Foundation Doctoral Scholarship
Steven Warwick A study of landfill content and its chemical evolution using historical, geographic and site monitoring data 2014-2021
Sunday Oniosun Phytoremediation of LNAPLs and Residual Oils in the Vadose Zone and Capillary Fringe 2012-2019
Khabeer Al-Awad The effect of biological exudates on the mechanical properties of granular soil 2014-2018
Stefani Botusharova Self-healing geotechnical structures via microbial action 2013-2017 Supported by BRE, as part of the EPSRC-funded ‘Materials for Life’ project
Ahmed Mugwar Bioprecipitation of Heavy Metals and Radionuclides with Calcium Carbonate in Aqueous Solutions and Particulate Media 2011-2016
Paris Alshiblawi Investigation of bioclogging in homogenous and heterogenous uncontaminated and contaminated sands 2011-2016
Richard Gill Electrokinetic-enhanced migration of solutes for improved bioremediation in heterogeneous granular porous media 2011-2015 EPSRC CASE Studentship at the University of Sheffield, co-supervised with Dr S Thornton and Prof J Smith (Shell)
Katherine Page Use of Recycled Organic Wastes as nutrient sources to aid the growth of energy crops on brownfield sites 2010-2014 Supported by Forest Research
Ziad Milad An Experimental Investigation of Landfill Leachate Impact on Surrounding Soil. A Study of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Aspects 2009-2014

Former Visiting Students

Title Dates Student Institution Degree
Landfill mining: Feasibility of reuse of aged municipal solid waste in geotechnical applications 10/2020 - 01/2021 SOMANI, Mohit IIT Delhi, India PhD
Treatment of contaminated marine sediments by microbially induced carbonate precipitation 09/2019 - 03/2020 LUMIA Lucia Università
degli Studi
di Enna
"Kore", Italy
PhD
The effect of plant roots and plant & microbial exudates in biogeotechnical stabilization of soils 2016-2018 CHEN Chunhui China University of Geosciences PhD